Forest, D’yan and Stephen Clarke. “I Did It My Ways: An 86-year-old stand-up comedian’s lifelong journey from prudish Bostonian to scandalous Parisienne, and beyond…”, PAF, 2021.
Funny, Serious and Everything Else
Before I read D’yan Forest’s “I Did It My Ways”, I had never heard of her but I feel like I know her now. In the book she takes us into her life or better said, lives. She has been a desperate Boston housewife, a New York night-club singer and a Paris swinger, the only Jewish girl in a Christian choir and the female pianist in a transvestite cabaret. She has taught basketball, piano and sex education and dated Paris’s second-ever female bus driver, a transsexual rock guitarist and a defrocked nun. She was able to get German friends to visit Nazi concentration camps while pursuing her own journey to understand why her European relatives were killed Today, Forest is 86 years old and she still works as a stand-up comedian and musician but that is only a part of who she is.
Reading this is like sitting down for a cup of coffee with a good friend who reveals bit-by-bit, the story of the experiences, the ups and downs, the pleasures and disappointments of life without holding back. From the first page I was drawn into this amazing life as I read about love, family, romance, divorce sex and estrogen.
So how is that a nice Jewish girl becomes an international entertainer? That is just what this book is about. I am sure that her Boston family had no idea about who D’yan Forest was to become. She knew about anti-Semitism having grown up during World War II and she also knew that she was not the kind of woman who would become a housewife yet she got married, nonetheless. It was a different time back then. Moving on from the marriage, the world opened for Forest and her story really begins.
I really loved being able to laugh and to weep as I read but more than that, I loved being entertained as I devoured every word. Forest dared to do what many of us only dream of, exhibiting “chutzpah” that only she has to answer for. To be able to beautifully write down all she has done is a gift and each page is like opening a new present that is filled with surprises. In fact, enjoyed this so much that I am going to make it a part of my annual reading list and reread it often. In fact, if this review seems a bit short, it is because I am going to stop writing and begin rereading it right now.